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Inaugural Relay for Life Carroll County will bring centralized approach, focus on pediatric cancer

The inaugural Relay for Life Carroll County will come to the Carroll County Agriculture Center on Friday, June 21, featuring a particular focus on pediatric cancer.

Relay for Life is the signature fundraising event of the American Cancer Society, involving survivors, family members and communities in walking around a track to raise money for cancer research, as well as cancer survivorship ceremonies at locations around the U.S.

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The Carroll County Relay event will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 21, and take place overnight, ending at 6 a.m. Saturday, June 22.

“That’s different than many of the other walks in the area,” said Victoria Colosimo, event organizer and American Cancer Society community development manager. “The original idea for Relay for Life was that cancer never sleeps, and so neither should we for one night. The volunteers that I work with that put this event together really wanted to keep this one the traditional way as an overnight event.”

There will be an opening ceremony at 7 p.m., and country singer Rich Fehle will perform from 9 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., at which time there will be a luminaria ceremony — candles lit inside paper bags to honor survivors, caregivers and those who died because of cancer.

The event is free and open to the public, and will be the first in a new series in Carroll, a merger of the previously separate Westminster and Freedom Relay for Life events, according to Colosimo.

“Last year, they decided to combine them to make one big CC event,” Colosimo said. “Then, unfortunately, it rained really hard and the venue where they were going to hold it was outside, so they had to cancel it completely. So this is the first year it is happening as a combined event.”

To ensure against another rainout, this year’s event will partially take place inside the Ag Center’s Shipley arena, according to Colosimo.

Relay for Life Carroll County will also feature the first GoldTogether team in Carroll. Many people form teams to raise funds and then take turns walking around the track at relay events, and GoldTogether teams agree to direct all the funds they raise toward pediatric cancer research, according to Vivienne Stearns-Elliott, director of communications with the American Cancer Society.

“ACS has more than $34 million in pediatric cancer research this year, and through the #GoldTogether for Childhood Cancer,” Stearns-Elliott wrote in an email. “An estimated 11,060 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in American children from birth to age 14 in 2019. In that same age group, 1,190 deaths from childhood cancer are expected to occur in 2019.”

“The GoldTogether initiative was started by one kid and his family, then they teamed up with the American Cancer Society, and the initiative as a whole has begun to spread to events around the country,” Colosimo added. “Moving forward for future years, we want to get more people involved with our GoldTogether initiatives if they have been affected by pediatric cancer.”

People can sign up online at www.Relayforlife.org/carrollcountymd if they would like to raise funds before or even after the event, but Colosimo said people are also welcome to come out and join the event even if not fundraising.

“They don’t have to sign up in advance,” she said. “We really just want people to come out and see what it is about, especially if they have never been to a Relay event before.”

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